From Harry’s initial introduction as he shops for his first year school supplies to his many visits with his friends throughout the years, Diagon Alley is essential to the story of Harry Potter. If you will love the books and movies, you will enjoy the world of London and Diagon Alley that Universal has recreated!
With so much to see and do, I have four must do’s to make your Diagon Alley visit a magical experience!
1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s
The Story: Gringotts Wizarding Bank is the only bank of the wizarding world! This experience begins in the lobby of Gringotts where you meet the solemn, quiet, Gobblins busy counting their money and balancing their ledgers! You are taken on a tour of the vaults with the Goblin, Griphook, where you run into Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they flee from Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault and warn you to leave quickly. But it is too late! You are thrown into the belly of the caverns by Bellatrix and come face to face with Lord Voltemort and the Hungarian Ironbelly dragon! Through many twists and turns, you barely escape with your life!
The Attraction: The queue through the bank and down into the vaults is as much fun as the ride. The ride is considered multi-dimensional and you will experience quick drops and sharp turns while wearing 3D Goggles. You must be 42 inches tall and not prone to motion sickness.
Tips: This ride is very popular and must be your first attraction in the park! It is best to have early park admission by staying on site at Universal and arrive at the park 30 minutes before the early opening. If you don’t stay onsite, plan on being in line an hour early for regular park admission, and head straight to Gringotts when the rope drops: guests who do not arrive early, will experience long wait times. A single rider option is available; however, if you choose single rider, you will miss interacting with the very life-like animatronics and seeing the details of the bank and vaults.
The Story: Ollivanders has been a maker of fine wands since 382 B.C. and is at home in Diagon Alley! We meet Mr. Ollivander when Harry gets his first wand as he examines Harry to find the perfect wand. After several tries at finding the perfect wand, we learn that the wand chooses the wizard as Harry’s wand is revealed!
The Attraction: A small number of guests are guided through Ollivanders as they see wands stacked in cases from floor to ceiling. You are brought to Mr. Ollivander where he picks one lucky person from the crowd to receive his personal attention. This guest is introduced to a couple of different wands until the wand chooses the wizard and everyone experiences the magic that Harry felt when he received his wand!
Tips: Even though this attraction is in Hogsmeade also, Diagon Alley is the true location for Ollivanders and is fundamental in the Diagon Alley experience. The shop is larger in this park and can accommodate more guests in the attraction as well as in the show room. 16 new interactive wands and 36 traditional wands are available to choose from. This attraction should be next after Gringotts because the line can grow long as the day progresses.
3. The Knight Bus
The Story: The Knight Bus is a triple-decker, purple bus that assists stranded individuals of the wizarding community through public transportation. It operates at a very fast speed; and with a conductor and shrunken head, you can go anywhere except under water!
The Attraction: Outside Diagon Alley, in the streets of London, guests can meet the Knight Bus, The Conductor and Dre Head.
Tips: Take a selfie or family shot with the Conductor and Dre Head. And by the way, Dre Head will interact personally with each guest. He wants to know where you are from, what is your name and why are you wearing those socks! He loves to tell jokes and connect with guests. It’s another amazing spot to experience Universal animatronics. Sit at the fountain and watch Dre Head connect with the other guests; you will find yourself laughing and enjoying every quip!
4. King’s Cross Station – Hogwart’s Express
The Story: King’s Cross Station is where you will find Platform 9 ¾ from which the Hogwarts Express may be boarded on September 1st for all students heading to Hogwarts! In order to reach Platform 9 ¾ you must walk directly into a brick wall between platforms 9 and 10. We see Harry, Ron and Hermione riding the Hogwarts Express, becoming new friends during their first year at Hogwarts and later, escaping the Dementors.
The Attraction: King’s Cross Station is accessed from the streets of London. The queue will have you walking through the train station and finally through a bring wall at platform 9 ¾ to board your car on the Hogwarts Express! The Train from King’s Cross to Hogwarts will pull you into the country side of London and into the enchanted world of Hogwarts through the window of the train car. But be prepared to watch your door, too, as characters will appear along the ride!
Tips: The queue moves quickly and you will not have to wait more than 30 minutes to ride. When you get to platform 9 ¾ have someone hang back and take your picture as you walk through the wall! The view to and from Hogwarts is different and you must ride both ways to gain the full Hogwarts Express adventure. The car holds 8 passengers and provides a genuine train experience for the riders.
These are just a few of the many experiences for you at Diagon Alley and Hogwarts! Contact me to experience these attractions for yourself, to answer questions on the Harry Potter Experience, and to learn about the onsite benefits of Universal Resorts! firstname.lastname@example.org